Heap-Turning; Worm-Wrangling


Every year on our allotment we have, inevitably, some successes, some surprises and a few failures. The way I figure it: it’s just important to keep going and grin if you have more of the first two than the last.

In that vein our brassicas are not so productive this year, the caulis being used as mash have rushed out of shape. The cabbages, meanwhile are bulking up. But the experimental Brokali (sic.) failed.

Runner beans, deliberately planted late so that we can harvest after our summer holidays (the Scillies and Dumfries and Galloway) are now being picked, eaten, freezered and/or given away.

Thornless blackberries are packed but still unripe. Apples (Bramley Seedling, James Grieve, Orange Pippins and a supermarket give-away tree) are loaded and ripening, as are the dessert pears. Still looking for a Bartlett.

Courgettes are big leaved and providing green and yellow loofahs daily and in the beds next to them, the pumpkins are now changing colour.


We have planted rows of late lettuce, beetroot where we lifted the onion crop (now strung up in the garage).

Today we dug over the remainder of the ground that the onions had taken up, removing the pernicious weeds and dumping the rest on the compost heap. This heap is now as full as it needs to be. So we have to empty the bay next door, turn this pile over and begin again.


Once that little piece of ground is dug over I begin; uncover the “finished” compost, it has been covered with black plastic, a couple of pallets and various other odds ‘n’ sods, then start to lift out the “brown gold” with a fork. I have to move a damson branch from the Pepper Grower’s plot first, but it bends back without any damage.

The material on this heap, having been, essentially neglected for six months or so looks really good – and is filled with brandling worms. I pick out about fifty of these and put them aside in what was an ice cream tub: they will go into the wormery we have outside the back door at home.

As successive wheelbarrows are emptied on the plot a robin approaches, mindful of the small black and white kitten that has been hanging around since June. We sit on the Overseer’s Throne, sip tea and watch enormous bumble bees hanging from diminutive speedwell flowers: the contrast in size is alarming but it must be worth the insect’s while as they are ignoring teasels and hedgerow buddleia elsewhere.


Eventually this compost will be turned into the ground, hopefully during autumn digging, replacing some of the elements that this season’s growth has “eaten up”, but also – and equally importantly – keeping the minibeasts and micro-critter levels high so that plant roots can access the nutrients as the ystart to grow – way ahead in the futures of next spring.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Good stuff, compost 🙂


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